The Gurnard’s Head Hotel
We stumbled upon this pub last year after a cliff-top walk and had been surprised and delighted by a delicious lunch. So back we came looking for the same again.
We drove the long way round from Lamorna by the Lands End road, meandered by mistake into a little hippy hamlet, and failed to find a stone circle that H said we could not miss. Unfortunately we had to miss it – it remained elusive and the ancient remains of Cornwall kept their mystery for us.
The weather closed in as we drove north, as if to flag up the contrast with our sunny stay on the south coast. Clouds gathered, patterns of light and shade played on the sea and a misty drizzle greeted us near Pendeen. We were looking forward to a comfy room and tea at the Gurnards Head.
The Hotel is a big no-nonsense slate-roofed block, typical of this area and now painted a strange shade of mustard yellow (not my favourite).
The landscape is similarly robust – rugged moorland and windswept pasture, instead of the rocky bays and palm trees just a few miles to the South of here. Even the sea had caught the mood today, transformed to flat grey from sparkling blue.
Our reception was friendly and the decor of flagged stone floors and shabby chic was comfortable and relaxing. For us this is better than a smart hotel and arriving at the Gurnards head was definitely the moment to really kick off our shoes, drink tea, soak in the bath and wind down. This really did feel like more like a room in a pub – down-to-earth, comfortable and relaxing. The rooms are decorated in a similar, but not identical, theme to the Old Coastguards; stripped wooden floors, rugs, oh and another lot of yellow paint in our room, but this shade nicer – more warm and comfortable.
You definitely know you are in the same chain, but there are individual touches. This place has a lot of local art on the walls so I spent some time lurking in the corridors to admire it. I was concerned that being right above the bar, we would be disturbed by the noise, but that just didn’t happen. Perhaps it was just a quiet night for them. No internet access here but we had been warned; it was good not to have it, we enjoyed being cut off.
Our room had a view onto the moors inland, a lovely prospect of gorse, pasture and dry stone walls. Unfortunately it also had a view of the double-decker open-topped tour bus which stopped right outside our window giving one lucky tourist a view of H in his boxer shorts. We had been a bit too relaxed (only cows outside!) and not thought to lower the blinds. Poor tourist, quietly enjoying the coastal views when suddenly he’s cheek by jowl, so to speak, with a man in his pants. Awkward for both…
Dinner, in the rambling dining rooms at the side of the pub, was also with a view. The waiter apologized for giving us a table tucked around the corner, but we were delighted with our window seat view of rolling fields, the sea just out of sight.
The food did not disappoint; it was as good as the last time though lacking the delightful surprise of our first visit. The service was considerate and intelligent – a dairy-free pudding was suggested without prompting and improvised by the chef. We were very satisfied, in spirit as well as stomach.
Breakfast was served in the bar the next morning, I would have preferred the dining room, but in fact it was pleasant, clean and fresh. There was possibly a bit less choice than at the Old Coastguard but nonetheless plenty of homemade touches and good food.
We did two outings from the pub. First an evening outing to Pendeen Lighthouse. This one was a short car trip away and a great place to watch the sun set, although this time it was obscured by clouds and there was a vigorous wind so we didn’t stay long.
A windswept and necessarily quick sketch of the north coast.
The second was after breakfast and we did another walk from the hotel. We took the road down through Treen to a footpath through the fields, braving the cows that thankfully ignored us, and down to the rocky Gurnards Head itself and to scramble out over the rocky tip and sit and watch the waves.
A pale sun slowly emerged through lifting clouds so ended our visit in sunshine again and the. Thoughts of Cornish pasties disturbed us at this point, but we had none and had to do without. I had noticed that the pub offers packed lunches, maybe they could add Cornish pasties…
So off we went up country, looking for Cornish pasties.
• Main things about The Gurnards Head:
• The rugged northern version, sitting in farm- and moorland – but not that rugged inside. Stylish and comfortable.
• This place feels much more remote. It’s a few miles to the nearest shops at St Just and Zennor.
• A great place for walking. You can walk the spectacular cliffs or head inland to the moors with their ancient stones and old mine chimneys.
• -There are good beaches an easy drive away, it’s midway between Sennen Cove and St Ives.
• -No mobile access, it’s surprising how quickly you forget about it.
• -Food – Just all good and they make a point of stocking local beers.
• Big pub car park so no problems with parking
• Nice little sofa- and sitting- area downstairs.
• There’s a garden at the back with seating area but we didn’t use it. When we were here the previous year they were setting it up for a music festival, which we couldn’t stay for but would have liked to.
• It’s on a main road so very convenient if you want to do public transport (or the open-topped bus). Road noise is not a problem, not a great deal of traffic – not many places to go to from here!
• Cornish pasties?